Dave Graybill - 4/28/2012
I haven’t said much about it yet, but there is an effort on the part of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to improve the experience of anglers on our inland waters. There is great potential for growth of the numbers of people who enjoy fishing at our many trout lakes, and to attract them, the department is taking steps to make it more attractive. Through surveys they have found that what people that presently fish these inland lakes really want is bigger fish. Catching fewer fish per day is okay with them, as long as the ones they do catch are worth the effort. The plan is to raise the size of smaller “catchables” that have traditionally been introduced to the lakes to no less than three to the pound. That’s a significant bump in fish size from what anglers have been used to. The number of triploids of over a pound apiece is being stepped up as well.
Right here in the greater Wenatchee Valley anglers can see what this means, even prior to the general lowland lakes opening at the end of the month. Three lakes near Rock Island have already received plants of trout. They include Big Bow, Hammond and Putters. All of these lakes are open year round, so anglers can try them right now. Each of the lakes has received over 2,700 rainbow that weigh close to two to the pound. Why wait for opening weekend? This weekend would be a great time to give them a try. The annual Rock Island Kids Fishing Day is coming up on Saturday at the Pit Pond, which is set aside for anglers under the age of 15. The event is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and the pond will be loaded up with fat rainbow. Families are encouraged to bring their own fishing gear and give it a try. There will be lots of the three-to-the-pound rainbow in the pond for sure, and there will also be some real whoppers planted for the kids. Volunteers from Rock Island will be running the cook shack again and serving up free hot dogs and snacks, and Pepsi will be providing free soft drinks. The Wenatchee Sportsmen’s Association will be there with bait and tackle for those that need it, and will even have some rods and reels that they will loan out, but must be returned after fish are caught. Families should consider giving the other lakes in Rock Island a try over the weekend, too.
Looking ahead to the big opening weekend at the end of the month, there are some good prospects for those that like fishing in Okanogan County. Anglers can expect to see larger fish at several lakes here, along with plants of triploid trout weighing a pound and a half. Alta Lake will be loaded up with 2,000 rainbow of just over two to the pound and 400 triploids. Conconully Lake and Conconully Reservoir will both get plants of 1,500 hefty rainbow as well as 125 triploids. Pearrygin Lake will be getting 400 triploids for the opening weekend, and Spectacle Lake, which is already open, has 600 big triploids in it. Patterson Lake is also already open and has received 400 triploids.
Two lakes in Okanogan Country that should provide particularly good fishing on the opening weekend are Wannacut and Leader. Leader Lake has been very popular with families for many years and this season should be excellent. It will have over 6,000 fresh rainbow waiting for anglers and they will weigh just over two to the pound. Wannacut will have 3,000 fresh plants, and also be getting 350 triploids of at least a pound a piece.
To the relief of most of those planning to hit the lowland lakes for the opening weekend of trout season, the hot weather we’ve been experiencing should moderate. Instead of temperatures in the 80s, anglers should expect daytime temperatures in the mid 60s with light winds for the weekend. I’m not saying don’t pack the sunscreen, but it won’t be sweltering. That’s good news for families that like to spend this weekend on or near the water.
Families that came down to the Pit Pond for the annual Rock Island Kids Fishing Day had a great time. Fishing wasn’t red hot, but I saw several youngsters land their first fish ever and that’s always a treat. The day was clear, warm and absent of wind, and the Wenatchee Sportsmen’s Association loaned out more than two dozen rods for people to use to catch fish, and most of them were returned! The line at the cook shack was busy as hot dogs, chips and Pepsi were served to the hungry crowd. It was another great event and I want to thank everyone that helped out.
Planting reports for the opening weekend are coming out slowly as they are being announced on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife web site as they are being made. So far in Chelan County only Roses Lake shows up on the list. It has been planted with 600 triploids weighing an average of 1.5 pounds. That will make a bunch of anglers happy.
There is one particularly happy Roses Lake angler. Fishing for bass on Roses Lake on April 11th, Manson angler Kirk Herrin got a big surprise, and I mean big. He was casting a fluke along the shore and it was eaten by a monster trout. When Herrin got it to the boat he wasn’t sure what he had. He sent a photo to Travis Maitland at the Chelan office of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and he said that what he had could possible be the new state record tiger trout!
Herrin was just leaving for the Tri-Cities with his family and didn’t get the fish weighed until he was in Pasco. He weighed it at a grocery store only to find out the scale hadn’t been certified for a year. He finally got it on a scale at the Post Office for official approval. The fish, by then, weighed 15 pounds, .04 ounces. The current state record for tiger trout is 13.75 pounds. Herrin is waiting for the official word but it looks like his fish will be the new record. He is also submitting the paper work to have his catch listed as a new line class record with the Freshwater Hall of Fame, and the International Game Fish Association. He was using 10-pound test line when he landed the fish. Tiger trout are a brown trout-eastern brook trout hybrid, and have been introduced to several lakes here in Central Washington. Because they are sterile and don’t spawn they grow fast.
Those who plan to visit the lakes in Grant County this weekend, will find a couple of lakes have received special plants of rainbow and triploids. Deep Lake, which is just above Park Lake, has been loaded up with over 2,500 rainbow weighing an average of 2.4 to the pound, and it also received an additional 300 triploids weighing an average of 1.5 pounds. Nearby Perch Lake and Vic Meyers Lake also received triploids; 100 each in each lake weighing an average of 1.5 pounds. Park and Blue lakes just north of Soap Lake didn’t receive plants as yet but are both expected to be excellent this year resulting from fry plants. These lakes have tremendous growth rates and there are always lots of rainbow well over a foot long taken at these two. Jameson Lake received a plant of 500 triploids recently to spice the action for opening weekend anglers. The quality lakes near Beverly were also planted to keep fly fishers happy. Lenice was stocked with over 2,300 rainbow weighing just under three to the pound, and Nunnally also was stocked with over 2,500 similar sized rainbow.
As families prepare for the weekend there are some things that should be on the check list. The first one is a license. I am surprised at how many people get in a hurry and forget to renew their license when shopping for last minute gear. The other thing that can make yours and others experiences more enjoyable is to practice good ethics at the boat launch. Remember to load your boat before you pull onto the ramp. Don’t make others wait while you put coolers, tackle boxes, etc. on board. Be sure you have life jackets for all those 12 years old and under on board, and others for adults. Test your battery before you launch. Don’t launch and then find you have a dead battery or your boat won’t start. I have actually watched people leave their boat tied to the dock, in everyone’s way, while they send someone to the store to buy a new battery! Be as quick as you can. Lend a hand if someone is having trouble backing their boat or trailer. Just be considerate and move as quickly as you can to safely come onto and off the water.
Things are shaping up for one of the best opening weekends ever. Bigger fish are being planted and I hope bigger numbers of anglers will be out trying to catch them. This is the beginning of it all; the annual trout fishing season. Have fun, be safe and catch some fish and make some memories!
By Dave Graybill